This past weekend, I went camping with my husband and our 3 children. Our friends came too with their 2 kids and we all had a blast!
Now you might ask why in the world, we would want to leave the comfort of our home and our naptime routines, and drag our 5yo, 2yo, and 9mo kiddos out to live outdoors for a weekend?
Because it’s fun! And it’s not even that hard. Read on and I’ll tell you all I know about camping with kids.
Camping with kids is fun.
First things first, going on family adventures is fun and so worth the work of packing up the kids.
Don’t let fear hold you back! Is it work? Yes. But it’s not as much work as you think.
Seeing my kids light up with the excitement of camping, and spend a weekend exploring the outdoors, fishing, riding bikes, and playing with friends was food for my soul. THESE are memories we’ll look back on. And we won’t think of the work it took or skipped naps. We’ll remember the fun, the smiles, and the time spent together.
Keep expectations realistic.
Going into your camping trip, set your expectations and keep them realistic.
I knew that my toddler probably wouldn’t nap, so I chose not to stress about it. I planned that Monday would be our recovery/catch up day: long naps and an early bedtime!
During our camping weekend, I think my 9mo only took one good long nap in bed. The rest of the weekend he napped on me and in the baby carrier! I expected that, so I was prepared at nap times to sit with the baby or wear him.
Know your children’s needs, think about how they react when somewhere new, and plan for how to meet their needs in a realistic way while camping.
As with doing anything with young children, being prepared is half the battle!
While preparing to go camping with babies and toddlers, think about these things:
- Where will you set the baby to play, eat, or rest?
- How many diapers do you need to bring for the length of time you’ll be there?
- Will you be somewhere near a town that you can run and get things you may need, or will you be relying solely on what you pack?
- Come up with a sleeping arrangement that will work best for your young children. (my toddler and baby slept with me, hubby had to find his own spot for the weekend!)
- What toys and activities are appropriate to bring?
- How to plan so your children can safely participate in the activities available? (hiking, biking, fishing, swimming etc.)
Think about your camping situation. Do you have a camper that is set up with your camping gear already? Or are you starting from scratch? What extra supplies do you need to bring to camp with your children?
I’d never been camping with my kids, and we were starting from scratch so I had to really plan and pack all the camping supplies I could think of!
Besides normal camping gear + food, this is what I packed for my kids (5yr, 2yr, & 9mo).
**disclaimer, anything linked is purely for your convenience because I love to share products I find useful with other moms! We don’t get any benefits from you using the links below.**
- Multiple sets of clothing for each child (a minimum of 2 extra per child, camping is dirty and it’s nice to have dry clothes to change into!)
- Jacket/Sweatshirt for each child
- Bug repellant (I use johnson & johnsons creamy baby oil as bug repellant for my baby & toddler- it works!)
- Baseball cap/sunhat for each child
- Diapers + wipes for the length of time we’d be gone (plus a bunch of extra because I live in fear of running out!)
- Any favorite blankets + lovies or stuffed animals (comfort items!).
- Favorite snacks and junk foods (camping = vacation = fun food!)
- 1 Sippy cup/straw cup/or reusable water bottle for each child.
- Ergo baby carrier
- Beach blanket, I use one like this for a yard blanket and love it for my babies playing in the yard!
- Camp chair for each child
- Folding/camp highchair! This was my favorite find when prepping for camping this year. It was so handy to have a safe place to set Jasper (9mo) & for snacks/meals since he loves to munch on whatever everyone else is having!
- What I didn’t bring but wish I had, was my Pack n’ Play. So that my active 9mo would’ve had a safe place to play/crawl, can’t put an active baby on a blanket on the ground when there’s a campfire going!
- Toys! We brought a variety of baby toys, our bubble machine + extra bubbles, glow sticks, and some other odds n ends. I haven’t perfected our camping toy list, but I’m working on it!
- Bikes, for our 5 and 2yo. They had so much fun biking around the campground!
- Fishing poles. The campground we went to had a pond reserved for campers-only fishing; which was fun the for kids & dads!
- First aid kit, including bandages, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, children’s Benadryl, and adults allergy medicine.
- What I didn’t pack but should have, was extra shoes for each child! It rained and we ended up with wet shoes/socks and no extras. It didn’t matter for those of us wearing sandals, but my 5yo and husband ended up driving into town and buying dollar store crocs cause they had wet shoes!
- If we were going swimming, I’d also pack swimsuits and life jackets.
Regardless of how much I pack, I’m always plagued by the feeling that I forgot something, and I’m sure I’m missing things on this list! Feel free to comment or email back with suggestions to add to my list!
Once you’re there, relax and have fun!
One of my favorite things about camping is that I get to forget about the laundry, dishes, and house chores for a while and just relax in God’s beautiful creation! Cooking is more fun outdoors, cleanup is more fun outdoors, the kids have a blast, and it’s so fun to just sit at the fire with the Hubby and some good friends after the kids go to bed.
Camping is fun, but camping with children who find new joy in every stick, rock, and puddle opens your eyes to see the world fresh and new like they do. And that’s one of my favorite things about parenting my young ones.
So sit back mama, relax, and have fun exploring the outdoors with your babies. It takes prep work, but you won’t regret it!